Schechter: Joe Hauser, baseball’s forgotten slugger

From SABR member Gabriel Schechter at The National Pastime Museum on November 27, 2014:

To say that Joe Hauser was the only professional ballplayer to slug more than 60 home runs in a season twice without the aid of PEDs only scratches the surface of this remarkable man’s career. Calling him “the Babe Ruth of the minors” doesn’t tell the full story either because it downplays the success he had in his relatively brief career in the Majors. Exactly what kind of hitter and man was Joe Hauser, who lived and breathed baseball for all of his 98 years?

The Milwaukee native, a left-hander who stood 5 feet 10½ inches tall and weighed 175 pounds in his prime, went to work at age 14 and became a pitcher in amateur ball at the same time Babe Ruth was pitching for the Red Sox. Nicknamed “Zip” because of his speed, he was signed by Connie Mack as a teenager but flunked his tryout and soon found himself playing the outfield in the minors. He wound up as a first baseman for most of his career, including all 547 games he played in the Majors.

He acquired the nickname “Unser Choe” during two seasons with the American Association Milwaukee Brewers. The native son was beloved by the city’s German population, who defended “Our Joe” against the inevitable hecklers. The nickname stuck, with his talent and colorful personality making him popular wherever he played. “Unser Choe” topped his letterhead for the rest of his life.

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Originally published: December 1, 2014. Last Updated: December 1, 2014.